New York (CNN) -- A new sexual education curriculum provided by the New York City Department of Education is raising eyebrows among some parents concerned with the program's level of detail and overall message.
One group, The NYC Parents' Choice Coalition, has been particularly outspoken against the new curriculum and held a press conference Monday to voice their concerns.
"I know that as my grandchildren, I want them to be able to know that abstinence is an option," Sylvia Laughlin, a group member, said at the press conference. "It's something they have a right to choose."
However, the Department of Education insists that while the program would begin sexual education classes in middle school and provide far more in-depth instruction regarding safe-sex practices, abstinence would continue to be taught.
"Abstinence is a very important part of the curriculum," Department of Education Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott said in a statement Monday. "But we also have a responsibility to ensure that teenagers who are choosing to have sex understand the potential consequences of their actions."
In addition to the new optional program, the NYC Department of Education is mandating that all schools have a sexual education curriculum by the spring of 2012.
"We have a responsibility, when you have an out of wedlock birthrate and a sexually transmitted disease rate that we have in this city, to try to do something about it," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday. "Shame on us if we don't."
The NYC Parents' Choice Coalition has a different attitude on the matter, expressed on their website by the motto, "Taking a stand against the NYC sex ed mandate."
The group is urging parents to opt their children out of sexual education classes and demand that a more abstinence driven alternative be taught instead.